Cities and towns across Nigeria roused from about a month-long coma early this morning of May 4 in the Year of our Lord 2020 with a pulse rate almost bursting the veins, but also spotting an unusual face! Everywhere you turn multitudes of eager Nigerians many of who had stayed indoors in compliance with official advisory to check the spread of the raging Covid-19 trooped to the streets, banks, markets and workplaces to resume their businesses or means of earning their livelihood in face masks!
In cars, buses, motorcycles, tricycles, on the road, side corners they are there, masked up in fabrics of different shades and colours. And with the whole space bustling with ‘masquerades’ you begin to wonder if the ‘Ara Orun Kinkin’ (Africa’s ancestral spirits) had become bored with their home in the ethereal realm and decided to visit or permanently settle with us, their earthly kith and kin! Could the dead really be back to repopulate the world, mingle and transact business with us, earthlings, like they did in D.O. Fagunwa’s fables?
It’s also so tempting to think we are probably well into the Egungun Festival celebration and that I must have missed out on the cultural calendar fixtures!
But the weird spectacle marks a switch in how our physical environment and life outdoor have hitherto looked and may look for some time. A curious phase. For how long will it last? We pray it ends soon.
Besides hypoxia, an unconsidered injurious health complication incessant wearing of and breathing into a mask causes, according to a health expert, one Dr. Dennis A. Castro B, one is also bothered that the new dress code or decree to mask up oneself might throw up a crisis whereby one mistakes or finds it difficult to recognize family members, friends, and people if they encounter them on the way, unless they know well beforehand how to identify them.
Pray, Romeo, his cousin, Benvolio and jovial friend, Mercutio, wore face masks to attend, uninvited, his family’s mortal foe, Capulet’s Masquerade’s Feast, but the hot-headed Tybalt, Capulet’s kinsman who was always looking for trouble with members of the Montague, his family enemy, still managed to detect them. Given his history and character, an entirely innocent man could well had been victim of Tybalt’s rage and decision to attack Romeo and his friends later for the slight on his family with their attendance of the gig, if such one had shared any resemblance with the young scion of the estranged Montague clan. The encounter at the masquerade party plotted the subsequent tragedy that ended one of the greatest love stories ever told in the world.
So, how much confusion, chaos and crises could result from this big national fair!
Well, I have no difficulty at all recognizing friends and colleagues including the Chief Press Secretary to the Oyo State Governor, Taiwo Adisa, who I met at Premier FM 93.5, Ibadan, where I had gone to do a recording of a programme, and Dr. Kayode Olunuga and Architect Olufunke Olunloyo with whom I worked.
Even, I surprised a female colleague who is a senior management staff of the popular radio station when in spite of her ‘disguise’, I called and greeted her. It, however, took a few seconds of talking and my helping her with a brisk lowering of my own face mask to the jaw for her to recognize it was me and cry: “Ha, Oga (The) Guardian!”, referring to the Genesis of our acquaintanceship in my early reporting days as Oyo State’s Correspondent for the flagship of the nation’s print media.
Wag his tail or charge?
But my furry friend, Spark, appears unable to make up his mind who I am – a Ninja, intruder, or the Master of the house he is familiar with, in these photos taken by my son, Michael, when I returned home with my strange look early this evening.
Imagine being before a distrustful immigration officer you must convince or bribe (“sanwo ile) to enter your own house.
Fabowale is the editor, Newspeak magazine